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Tweens, teens and summer break

Most kids have eight or 10 weeks of summer vacation from school, and most of us parents would like to see them doing something other than sleeping until noon and then playing computer games until dark.

In a difficult economy, it’s challenging to find summer jobs, and even volunteer assignments may be scarce. So what can your kids do to keep themselves productive and out of trouble once school’s out? Check out these possibilities:

• Get trained for a future job. Teenagers who swim well can enroll in lifeguard training programs. Some are run by city aquatics programs, others by the American Red Cross. Programs are modestly priced (sometimes even free) and satisfactory completion can lead to part-time jobs at local pools during the school year and school vacations.

• Get prepared for a part-time business. Computer-savvy kids can use training manuals and workshops to turn themselves into the neighborhood “geek squad,” ready to set up and troubleshoot hardware and create websites, online forms, podcasts and videos for small businesses that lack the time or skills. Even middle schoolers can probably handle broadcast e-mail, Twitter and Facebook pages for friends and overwhelmed businesspeople.

• Go into business. One middle-schooler we know started herbs in the family greenhouse and sold hundreds of little plants at the neighborhood yard sale. Four high school orchestra members marketed themselves as musicians, and worked their way through high school playing at receptions, bar mitzahs and retirement home events.

• Tutor or coach. Teenagers could combine babysitting with teaching—and generate higher wages—by drilling little kids on their multiplication tables or providing more individual coaching than is available at sports camps. High school students with strong math or foreign language skills often ask $25 to $50 an hour to tutor pre-calculus or Latin vocabulary. Private swim lessons may cost $20 per half hour at a pool, so a teenager with water safety instructor certification could probably charge $10 to $15 per lesson.

• Become a “personal concierge.” How’s that for a modern spin on “mother’s helper” or “handyman?” Middle and high school students could commit to spending a couple of hours (or more) each day running errands and handling small jobs for busy parents, an elderly person or working couples. This might be gardening, minor house repairs, window-washing, car-washing, dog-walking, escorting children to sports practice, grocery shopping, doing laundry, sewing on loose buttons or picking up dry cleaning.

• Make connections for future jobs. Many day camp programs welcome volunteer assistants. Your kids won’t get paid, but they’ll be busy, and chances are, they’ll have a leg up if later applying for a paid recreation leader job. Some sleep-over camps have formal “leaders in training” programs.


May 13 — 11:45 a.m., Mountain View Homemakers meeting.

May 13 — 6 p.m., Western Heritage Event Center Inc. meeting.

May 13 — 6 p.m., 4-H Lamb meeting.

May 13— 6:30 p.m., Farm Bureau meeting.

Check out our webpage at for calendar events and information.